MARTIN CRAGHAN. if
Published under the Direction of the
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appointed by the Society for Promoting
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'Are there giants in the valley;
Giants, leaving footprints yet?
Are there angels in the valley?
Tell mel I forget I"
Fmi.IKllBB UNPRK TUB D1RBCTKIK OK TJ
COMMITTEE OF OBNKUAI, MTFRATURR AND FDI
APPOINTED BY TUB SOCIETY FOB PKOMOTI
Soctetn for Promoting dfjn'stian Itnoblmp.
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4 Royal Exchange; 48 Piccadilly;
And by all Booksellers.
For the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
AT THE CLARENDON PHES8,
[AKE care of the lad, Martin! 'tis but
| a little one."
' Mrs. Craghan sighed as she spoke,
looking up into Martin's face, and then smiled
down into little Martin's bright eyes.
"Never fear, mother," whispered the boy,
" only think of this evening, and the wages —
the first wages, mother!"
His father looked proudly and tenderly on
the eager, happy face, and then across to the
hard-worked, toil-worn, pretty woman, who
was his wife.
"Never fear, lass," he said, echoing the
hopeful words, " what makes thee down-
hearted this morning'?"
"He looks so young," said the woman,
plaintively, " and it is such hard, rough work,
Martin ; all day long I sit and fear for the
"What a foolish little woman, 1 ' he said,
kissing her. "Good-bye, lass; Martin is half-
6 Martin Craglian.
way to the shaft by this time ; he is always
ready, and to the fore — a venturesome little
"A brave lad, too," he muttered, proudly,
with his eye on the boy's slender figure, as he
stood waiting impatiently, on the brink of the
shaft, for the re-appearing of the cage.
It was the younger Martin's first week of
work in the mines, and this was the day for
his first wages. He was a very little chap,
even for his ten years, with his mother's pretty,
sleepy eyes, and brown, rippling hair, and
being so little, and new to the work, the task
allotted to him was that of helping to fill the
trucks with coal, as they lay waiting on the
iron rails, and start them down the steep in-
cline that led to the foot of the shaft.
There was no great difficulty in the work
itself, but it was the loneliness the child
minded. The other boy, who had laboured
with him all the morning, had been told off,
at twelve o'clock, to help the men at work
almost a quarter of a mile beyond, and, saving
the occasional faint echo of a song, or the far-
distant tap of the pickaxes, the silence was
dense and undisturbed.
He was a brave little chap, in the main,
but he grew almost frightened at last, as the
afternoon wore on, and a horrible thought
that he had been forgotten, made him catch
Martin Graglian. 7
his breath, and turn white and sick with fear.
He thought at first, in his foolish terror, that
he would leave the trucks for ten minutes
— ten minutes would bring him to the shaft
— and see if his father were still there ; but
suddenly, the idea vanished — what! leave his
work now, when the time must be nearly
up, and the wages due ? " No, I am not
quite a coward," the boy said, laughing out
loud as he spoke, to convince himself of the
truth of his words, and he caught up the
dim echo of the song, and chanted it mono-
tonously. It was a Methodist hymn — a para-
phrase — and two lines ran thus : —
"His Angels He shall give in charge — "
"And they shall bear thee up."
He meant to encourage himself, and forget
the momentary fear, but, somehow, his voice
sounded so odd and doleful, and the little
tallow dip in the front of his cap gave such
a fitful light, that he grew frightened again,
and paused — listening to what 1
To a strange, rumbling noise, that seemed
to come in an instant, and swallow up all his
lesser troubles in one great fear.
Little blocks of coals came crumbling from
the walls on to the ground at his feet, and
then, without any warning, the distant rum-
bling sound broke out again, and with it
8 Martin Crag! um.
came the low, moaning cry, of some creature
There was a trampling of heavy feet, a
confused hubbub of voices, and, in a minute,
Martin was in the stream of eager, jostling
men, who strode, in silent, terrible anxiety,
towards the shaft. Thank God ! whatever
had happened in the pit, that was clear still,
and in working order.
Martin might have been among the first
of that dense, awe-struck crowd, but that, at
the frightened cry, he had turned breathlessly
back, to where he had left the laden trucks.
Something that he kissed, with tears in his
pretty eyes, came and rubbed a cold nose
against his hand, and would not leave him.
With resolute, childish hands he put aside
his petted mule ; with unsteady fingers he
dragged the little, tallow dip from the front
of his cap, and stuck it on a ledge of coal.
" Good-bye, dear Brighteyes," he said, " I
have put my little candle so that you need
not be afraid of the dark, but you must wait
for me here. 'His angels He shall give in
charge,' Brighteyes," he said, "over you and
As he ran down the long, dark tunnel, the
light at the farther end kept him in the right
path, and hushed, expectant voices told him
that he was safe still — the shaft was clear.
Martin Craglum. 9
What was it that made him pause and
hesitate again, on the very threshold of safety 1
What made a sudden smile break through the
pallor of his face, as he stood and listened'?
Only that out of the far, dim distance, that
he was leaving behind him, with swift steps,
tli ere came the faint echo of a song.
Before him, a little circle of light shone out,
like Hope through the gathering gloom. Be-
hind, the darkness fell, like a pall, between
him and those distant voices.
With no thought of his own imperilled
safety ; with only one cry for his father — that
his father never heard — he turned back,
"There is more than an inch of water/' he
heard some one cry out, suddenly, behind
him ; but he did not stop to think what the
words meant. He plodded up the long, de-
serted tunnel, groping his way through the
blinding darkness, with no thought save that
of warning those unconscious men of their
danger— for nearly ten minutes, staggering,
faltering, struggling, over all obstacles to
his unshod feet. Then, suddenly, he spread
out his hands before him, with a cry that
echoed and re-echoed down the lonely path —
he had lost his way !
Nearly wild with terror and dismay, he
tried to struggle back to the dim rays of
light at the entrance — but in vain. Dark-
10 Martin Craglian.
ness, that seized upon him, and wrapped him
in, met him at every turn, and there were
no voices to guide him now.
He had grown stupid at last, in his despair,
when, before him, through the darkness, there
rose up suddenly, the dim, uncertain flicker
of his little candle. a i i
All his courage came back at the light,
and he clapped his hands. "I 'have come
back, Brighteyes," he said; but there was
no sound in answer. Brighteyes, more faith-
less than his child-master, had wandered away
in the darkness — he had not been content to
" Then I must go alone," the boy said ;
and he took up the tallow dip, and picked
his way, with tired feet, over the rough,
uneven ground. "Where could they be? he
wondered — those men who had been at work
beyond! what if all these weary steps had
been in vain ! what if they were safe !
The candle nickered, and went out. He
put up his hand to grope his way, and called.
His hand struck against a rough, uneven wall,
that shut him in again, and barred his pro-
gress. He was too far gone for cries or com-
plaints now, but he knelt down in utter silence,
and felt up and down the slight partition. It
had not been there an hour ago, he knew —
what was it 1
Martin Craghan. 11
His heart beat very fast, as, with his little
hands, he traced the shape of bricks, and
saw that, in some fear or peril, the men be-
yond had built up this mockery of a barricade
between him and themselves.
What could be the reason 1 ? If they knew
of the danger, why had they not escaped?
Why had they walled themselves into this
living tomb, if there were any other chance
of life left? He beat his hands against the
walls, and cried out, passionately, "Take me
in ; take me in ;" but no one heard him, and
his voice die! away in a sob. He staggered
to his feet, and stumbled forward, to the place
where he had worked all day, falling, with
both hands outstretched, over a mass of coal.
Dragging himself up, his hand splashed
down into a little tide of water at his feet,
and, through the darkness, the ripple and
murmur of tiny waves broke the stillness.
There were no tears in his eyes now, but a
despair, too terrible for words, as he gathered
himself slowly up, and climbed on to a higher
ledge of ground. In all his agony and terror
he had never thought of tins — never dreamed,
for a moment, of this one awful thing — this
death, that through the darkness, and the
stillness, had laid a detaining hand upon him,
and was creeping to his feet — had chosen him
out, before them all, as its only prey.
12 Martin Grac/han.
"Oh! mother, mother/' sobbed the child,
"I never said ' Good-bye.'"
Exhaustion came presently, and, with exhaus-
tion, fear slumbered. He groped about until
he found the end of candle, and struck a
match, that was in his pocket, to make a
little gleam of light. Something, attracted by
the light, came, splashing and slipping, through
the rising water — something that stumbled
penitently to little Martin's side, and moaned
plaintively — something around whose shaggy
neck he put his arm, and was comforted.
" I knew you would come back some time,"
he sobbed, " but I'm not going to think yet,
Brighteyes — not just, yet, for I've got such a
long, long time to die in, and the water isn't
over my foot yet. I think we'll write out
about the angels, Brighteyes, on the slate —
you and me, with this little bit of chalk ;
maybe it'll do us good."
He knelt on one knee, and traced the ill-
formed letters on the slate : — " He shall give
His angels charge" — " His angels, Brighteyes—
that'll be us soon — you and me. I don't
remember any more" — he broke off, suddenly,
" but, maybe, God knows the rest."
There was a thundering rush and roar
that drowned his voice, and drowned the
sweetness of his laugh ; a crash — a fall — a
Martin Craghan. 13
terror of great darkness, out of which there
came the sound of a frightened cry. Then
all was silent.
With his last conscious effort Martin
stretched out his arm to touch something
that lay across him, and gasped under his
breath, "Never mind, Brighteyes," he said,
"you're not alone/' He felt the water rip-
pling round his bare feet ; he felt the agony
of pain, that brought a moan to his white
lips ; he felt the descending darkness, that led
him to the very threshold of Death; but
through the fear, and pain, and darkness, even
to the shore of Death itself, truly God gave
His angels charge concerning the child.
All night long, with the stars bright above
them, the water rising hour by hour, a band
of brave men worked in steady silence,
more eloquent than words, to force their way
through the great blocks of coal, to where
six living souls waited, with white faces, to
see which should win the day — those anxious
workers, or the rising waters.
They never once paused in their eager
task, save when a woman, who had come
down with them, and who stood, straining her
haggard eyes through the darkness, suddenly
stumbled, and fell fainting. Then one of the
14 Martin Craghan.
men— it was her husband — put his pick aside,
and lifted her into the cage. "Poor little
mother," he said, "go home and wait;" and
then he set to work again. Kind hands
brought back the life to her eyes, and laid
her down to wait at the mouth of the pit ;
but she would not go home.
So it went on for four hours more ; then,
from the foremost man, a shout came back.
Martin Craghan leant on his pick, and lis-
tened. "What have you found, lads'?" he
shouted back, hoarsely.
The answer woke the echoes of the passage,
and woke, also, a dead hope in Martin's heart.
The glad answer went pealing all along
the dark tunnels of coal, and was carried up
by rough, kind voices, into the grey, summer
dawn. A pretty, care-worn woman, kneeling
at the pit's mouth, leant her face over the
shaft, and spoke under her breath — peering
down, as if even her loving eyes could pierce
the darkness : " Thank God," she said, " for
my little, living child."
So they found him — encaged in the prison
that had so much the semblance of a tomb ; and
they paused, and turned, wonderstruck, to one
another, when, out of the ruin and confusion
Martin Craghan. 15
— from the very midst of great blocks of
coal, they saw the unmarred, living face,
smile up. "It is a miracle," Martin said,
standing to look. But, between the frail
limbs and the blocks of coal, they struck
against some soft, protecting substance, that
it was too dark to see, that had interposed
a shield between the child and death — a torn,
mangled body, on which the great blocks of
coal had fallen and rested, crushing all the
life out of the patient limbs.
Little Martin, opening his eyes, when the
light of the candles fell upon him, put out
his hand to touch the shaggy coat. "Why,
Brighteyes, it is quite light/' he said, " do you
think it is the angels?"
Then he caught sight of the rough faces
peering curiously at him, and the rough, eager
hands working for his release. His father,
with his cap off, and something dimming his
eyes, was kneeling by his side, and reading
the words on the piece of slate, that stood at
the boy's head, so strangely like a monument.
" God bless the lad," he said, in a choking
voice ; and then he added, in a softer tone,
" Thank God."
Little Martin looked up, — " I didn't get the
wages, after all, father," he said, anxiously ;
what hurt my leg? where's mother?"
They tenderly dressed and bandaged the
16 Martin Craglian.
little leg, that had been so sorely hurt by its
imprisonment, and told him how the love
and life of his dumb friend had been his
shield; and, in their rough way, they were very
pitiful over the mangled body, and laid it
aside from the ruin, in the far corner, with
a piece of coarse sacking over it.
"I can't quite understand, father," Martin
said, gravely, as he stood, softly stroking the
shaggy coat — "He shall give His angels
charge — you know, that was over Brighteyes
and me ; and yet he is all hurt, and dead,
and I am only a little hurt, and quite
" I don't quite see, neither," said his father,
thoughtfully, " and yet, Martin, think of the
mother at home, and how it might have gone
with us, if "
Meanwhile, the little mother, at the pit's
mouth, was waiting — waiting, in the patience
of her hope — for the child, over whom the
angels had kept such careful watch.
Printed for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
at the Clarendon Press, Oxford.